Well, the author has a lot of humanity to share. Good for him.

But his book could certainly have done without the favourable references to Abraham Maslow (surely the most raggedy old hat in the milliner’s bargain-basement), Carl Jung, Woody Allen and Ashton Applewhite…. Ugh.

With such an untutored eye, all the cultural simpering of the New Age is jumbled onto the page here here with an utterly predictable critique of the way we live in this century. Now that “the storms of youth and middle-age are behind us” (sic), we can apparently be free to complain about acquisitiveness, materialism, the consumerism that “has the power to distract us from such vital issues as ageing and death”.

Older people are, meanwhile, so dissed in the media / advertising and youthful looks are so revered that age-discrimination is  –  “in our youth-oriented culture”  –  altogether prevalent. One may well be longing to read a book about ageing which does not frame the sexagenarian as some kind of social victim. But alas even in a book which advises ageing folks not to promise themselves a better yesterday (but to shift to a new sphere of interdependent consciousness) one still hears that same old song.

Yes, as Mr Duncan says, it is wise to make practical preparations for decrepitude and dying. But this Third Age is no longer  –  if it ever were  –  exclusively a business of managed decline. Yes, let’s all calm down, be grateful for what we have, draw meaning from our personal histories  –  but let’s also re-train, shed toxic intimacies, accumulate enough wealth to protect oneself in one’s Nineties, grow new achievements, stop acting as if non-judgmentalism is some kind of human warmth, battle (for that is the word) to make everything around us better than it was.  When one reads here that “the foolishness of human behaviour is staggering” one recalls Matthew’s advice about beams, specks, etc. Superiority in spirituality is never a good look.

And as for the claim that older people are much happier than those in middle-age??? Oh please, let’s all get a life before it’s too late!

Forsooth, I do not want to be a “healing elder”; I want to be my own rock-star. Longevity maybe gives me that chance.

The book has a good heart. But let’s not race towards the dark.

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